Sunday, April 15, 2007

What war is like 

Dave at The Galloping Beaver writes about the real, raw, painful experience of war:

The nightmares of past events come more often and with more clarity. And, in the middle of a conversation with people who know nothing of my history, I suddenly recall an event which sends my mind flying in a thousand different directions.
Back then, I used my weapon precisely as I was trained to do: automatically, surgically and as an extension of my arms. Often, I did not feel it kick into my shoulder or hear the metallic working of the action. Now, I can feel the trigger and the pressure against my index finger as I release the round that will kill the human in front of me. I can see the faces of mere boys who were given no choice but to die by my actions. In a particular instance, I replay an event which at the time I could not afford to second-guess. And I now wonder if the wounded young conscript laying in a fire-pit ahead of me was not reaching for his weapon but crossing himself in the style prescribed by his Catholic faith. I put two rounds into his chest before he could finish his act and I will never know whether he intended to kill me or whether he was simply asking for help from his God.
My mind randomly and with no warning suddenly erupts with one thought: “You are a killer.” It is something I have to fight back because when it happens I can see the edge of an abyss. It is a debilitating feeling that no matter what I have done in my life or what good I do, I will always be a killer; someone whose conscience was able to repress remorse for over two decades.
I commend Dave's bravery in telling the story of his war -- and hope that telling it will help reduce the stress.
I once read an article about people recovering in a burn unit of a hospital. Psychiatrists help them by visiting them each day and getting them to tell "the story" of their accident or experience. The theory is that telling it out loud helps them to integrate the experience and deal with it openly, which prevents the nightmares and the other symptoms of post-traumatic stress which burn victims apparently are particularly prone to.
I wonder if everyone who has experienced traumatic events would be better off to tell "the story", rather than let it eat away at them inside. Its hard to find someone to tell the story to -- families and friends are often too emotionally involved to just calmly listen without judgement or comment or reassurance, tending to say "don't think about it" when they can't really think about anything else.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Email me!